Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,505,081)
The Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences (ADFS) continues to face serious budgetary constraints, as the annual requests for DNA services and increased costs for DNA testing reagents continues to outpace the Agency’s limited annual budget allocation.. In addition to the budgetary challenges, rape/sexual assault submissions to our laboratories has increased by more than two-fold from 2015 to 2021 (789 rape/sexual assault submissions in 2015 compared to 1,637 submissions in 2021) and now accounts for approximately 52% of the cases that our Agency receives. This increase in rape/sexual assault submissions is due, in part, to the largest law enforcement agency in Alabama recently receiving a Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) award and the ADFS’ collaboration with this agency to test approximately 3,800 previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits. In general, rape/sexual assault cases require the most analyst time and resources to process, and the continued increase of rape/sexual assault submissions to our Agency has exceeded our testing capacity and negatively impacted our backlog and TAT. Moreover, this increase in rape/sexual assault submissions to our Agency is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
The federal funding from this award will greatly assist in overcoming these challenges, and will be used to realize the following goals and objectives:
Increase the capacity of the ADFS forensic DNA casework laboratories, thereby reducing the forensic DNA casework backlog, through analyst overtime and the purchase of Biology supplies to assist the ADFS to process, record, screen, and analyze forensic DNA samples.
Prevent a DNA database sample backlog accruing through the purchase of database supplies and analyst overtime to assist the ADFS to process, record, and analyze DNA database samples.
Enhance the long-term capacity of the ADFS casework and database laboratories to process, record, screen, and analyze forensic DNA and DNA database samples through the purchase of maintenance agreements for the DNA analysis instrumentation and the STRmix DNA mixture interpretation software.
The ADFS expects to test at least 650 cases by the end of the award period, resulting in a significant reduction in the statewide backlog of cases awaiting testing. The ADFS DNA databank laboratory also expects to process at least 10,000 DNA database samples using federal funding. The statewide turnaround time on Biology casework is expected to be reduced by an additional 10 days.
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